Investors running a firm recycling plastic bags and other plastic items into different usable materials used in agricultural and construction, are looking forward to recycling large quantities of single use plastic bottles following the recent ban on them in Rwanda.
Léon Nduwayezu, the owner of Agroplast Ltd came up with the idea to recycle plastic items in 2007 when Rwanda issued a ban on plastic bags use is a threat to the environment.
“We realized that without recycling, the plastic bags would be gathered and be burnt yet burning them is also part of polluting environment. This emerged as an opportunity. We work with Rwanda Environmental Management Authority to reduce the threats,” he said.
He said they recycle over 1 tonne of plastic items per day.
“We are now working together on how to manage single-use plastic items such as water bottles, straws and others. We have already found a solution on the table and we only remain with importing suitable machinery from China to start massive production in August. By mixing water plastic bottles and other types of plastic items, we have already produced a sample of pavers for construction and tiles. We are also looking at producing roofing tiles from plastic items,” he noted.
Parliament recently passed a draft law prohibiting the manufacture, importation, use and sale of single-use plastic items in Rwanda.
Single-use plastics are plastics that are used only once before they are thrown away or recycled, which pollutes the environment.
These include plastic bags, cups, straws, coffee stirrers, soda and water bottles, and most food packaging materials.
The draft law introduces the payment of an environmental levy to importers of consumer goods packaged in single use plastics items.
A person who manufactures single-use plastic items is liable to the closure of the activity, dispossession of those items and payment of an administrative fine of Rwf10 million.
A person who imports single use plastic items is liable to an administrative fine equivalent to ten times of the value of those single-use plastic items.
A wholesaler of single-use plastic items is liable to an administrative fine of Rwf700,000 and dispossession of those items.
The investor added that they have trained youth who have set up 11 businesses that collect plastic items countrywide and supply the factory in Kicukiro district.
Since 2015, he has invested over Rwf410 million in recycling plastic waste into trash bags, net bags for potato and horticulture, construction sheets and greenhouses in agriculture as well as sealed sacks.
“Producing tiles, pavers and roofing tiles by recycling all types of plastic items including single-use plastics requires at least five tonnes per day as raw materials. By increasing production capacity, we will reduce plastic waste significantly,” he said.
He was sharing the success story last week during the closing ceremony of Private Sector Driven Agricultural Project, a five-year project five-year-project worth Rwf 22.8 billion from which the investor also got support in recycling plastic items.
The project helped the investor to access basic machinery and build trust to attract loans from banks.
The project funded by USAID has partnered with over 50 SMEs, 92 cooperatives and four civil society associations resulting in $26 million in agricultural loans and value chain financing leveraged, $70 million in domestic and exports sales of agricultural commodities by private sector, $27 million in new private investment and $30 million in gross farm incomes for supported smallholder farmers.